In church you always have a minister who talks about serving in the ministry, and being a community. Sometimes, often they don’t go into what that looks like. It’s left up to you to find out. It’s made important, without being thoroughly explained.
So where does that leave you? In my experience, it often leads to self doubt of a role I may not consider myself to be strong in. It leads to an easy out when it’s something I just don’t want to do. It also, more often than not, makes me wonder what is expected and then I either forget to ask the person in charge of the area, or just don’t know who they are and don’t seek the answer out. All of which are pretty easy excuses, and has in the past worked for me….or looking back definitely worked against me. I love in the Bible where Job is basically questioning his existence(Job 3-4:21) and he’s put in check by Eliphaz, with Eliphaz making points such as “Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands.” “Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?” I wish I had more Bible knowledge back then to give me more courage, and strength, however, I am thankful for this road I have walked and learned on.
In my youth, as a preteen and teenager, none of this was an issue for me. I loved serving in the children’s ministry (mostly the baby room) for yrs. This one class of kids came in, and though it was 20yrs ago now, I can still name every last one of those kids. You see, we started with them in the baby room, and graduated up all the way til they were 5 and I started going to another church. Those 5 yrs I watched these kids grow every Sunday and helped with potty training (which lucky today people don’t have to do) I helped teach them words, and most importantly we taught them to love God and because I was a preteen I loved doing the lesson in fun ways, usually tying in some sort of snack. One time we made a funnel cake and honestly it’s been so long I can’t remember all the details but I remember it tied into the covenant Abraham made with God. It was so cool, and fun and the kids loved it. For me at that time, I just wanted to do something fun that might stick with them just a little. I got so close to these kids, and then one day it happened. The church started to fall apart in different areas, for different reasons, and I felt pulled away. I had no clue until many years later what was going on, I was a kid and it wasn’t my business; but even I felt pulled away.
I started at a new church with new friends as a teenager. It was different. It was a much smaller church, and the friends I had made were at the beginning of that church. I tried to get involved, however because they didn’t know me, and judged the way I looked (surprise I’ve had purple, pink, and blue hair since I was 16!) it was uncommon and I was the unknown person who could spread bad things through the church. I often got angry with the youth leaders because they wouldn’t answer my questions that weren’t surface questions about God and after this world ends, I felt they were unorganized especially at events, and they were constantly trying to “reach” me. They put such a sour taste in my mouth for serving. They only accepted who they thought was good enough, and who they didn’t they let know. It hurt, and it gave me a sense of lacking in church community. I had gone from one extreme to the other.
Fast forward many years later and we land at Journey. My husband, Josh, and his band did the very first service, while my baby brother and I were in the seats. We had a lot of life happen, and then decided we needed to get plugged into a church and commit to our church. At this time, Journey had moved to the warehouse. My husband remembered Scott and Mark and thought highly of them, so we went to check out how their church was doing. The first sermon (for me, for my husband it was the music and sermon) gripped us. We wanted to come back and learn more. My husband’s heart has always been high in servitude, so he was very quick to jump into the worship ministry. I however, was pregnant with our first child, was still not confident in plugging in. I still was rooted in not being good enough, or what if they judge me, or do I even care to get to know these people I won’t see outside of church? I know, not so nice thoughts right? So I focused on the kids (and we have many) and fell into the roll of Mom and Wife of, instead of sharing myself with my church family. In no other place was I just a mom of, or wife of, I have always made my own mark in this world. It took me about 7 years of being at church before I truly became apart of our church community. Long time, I know. I wanted to serve, but I didn’t know where. I wanted to be seen, but I talked myself out of it. I wanted to be me, but instead I self deprecated. Its a struggle when you feel disconnected, unworthy, and unseen to find a place…your place.
During the time I was managing my kids, I watched, learned and talked to the community that is our Journey family. I saw areas of opportunity, but still hesitated, and I talked to the people and found many I had things in common, and many that I did not. I have watched growth amongst our family, and church family. Then, finally, I stepped up. I made the commitment to serve. One thing to know about me, is I NEVER make a commitment UNLESS I truly mean it. Once I commit I am all in 100 percent and nothing can detour that.
In the areas I saw opportunity for growth and change that I could assist I jumped in. I assisted my husband with Worship and tech because I am strong in my gifting of administration. From there we had some changes in the children’s ministry, and I again saw some opportunities of growth and came along side with Deidre and helped in the areas I have strength, and learned more in the areas I am lacking. One thing about coming alongside Deidra was, I was not leading and didn’t have to in order to share my gifts and learn areas I can grow.
So with all of this said, the final thing I should bring up is that ministry, serving, and church community are all interconnected. We need to be apart of our church and our community because our church and our community need us, our gifting, our messes, and grow together. If we do not know ourselves, how can we share ourselves? It takes all types of put together & all types of messes to help one another. I make an impact on those that I might not realize I have, just by being around and sharing my gifts and weaknesses, my triumph and my failures. You make an impact, you just might not know it yet. You might not know or see where you fit in, but I PROMISE you, you fit in right where is needed when you listen to God, and look for a place. It’s easier to wait to be invited, but if you haven’t shared yourself, or just not shared with the right person, how will someone know to invite you? You and your story are necessary to the church and its congregants. Its like Mark has said in many different sermons in many different ways, and most recently in the chiasmas..God is asking us “Where are you?“ “I remember.” “Where are you going?” God works in those who are willing to sacrifice for the good of others. Learn from our mistakes, let go of the reins and trust God to create your story.
My children have literally grown up here at Journey, and look at each and every one of you as family. They know your face, most of the time your name, and you mean something to them. I rely on you, our church family to help guide, grow, and teach my kids along side myself. I often say jokingly, “it takes a village,” but I could not be more serious when I say that phrase. For instance, a prime example of you all helping me, is at the kickball games. I was able to participate in varying ways because our members were there to help watch over my little Lilly and Henry. You embraced them with love, and watched over them so that they might not fall off the bleachers run into harms way, and you did that with a smile of enjoyment. As a parent, I could not be more touched and my kids have so much to share about how you showed love and shared things with them. Everything we do, big or small, front line or behind the scenes makes an impact and difference. Cleaning the church, serving in a ministry, listening to someone’s needs and helping them are all important areas of serving, ministering to, and being apart of our church/community. Ephesians 2:22 says it best, “In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” God created everything, because not even He is meant to be alone, Jesus gathered disciples because he was not meant to do life alone; and with God Adam and Eve were not perfect but they gave themselves their messes/mistakes and their glory; and with Jesus the disciples did the same, Peter is the one that jumps out at me for his messes/mistakes and love of serving God and following Jesus with all of himself.
I don’t serve because I have to. I don’t serve because I just want to. I serve because we are called to work together in this life and I know my strengths and weaknesses well enough to know where I can take the lead in something and where I can grow myself in something. Growing in something is obviously less appealing at times, gets you out of your comfort zone, and is never necessarily the first choice right?